Willen Church Sleepout to Help the Homeless: Saturday 14 September 2019

The church of St Mary Magdalene is hoping others will join them in highlighting the problem of homelessness in our city with the Big Sleepout event which will take place overnight NEXT SATURDAY, 14 September outside Willen Pavilion.

Please email willensleepout19@gmail.com for registration and sponsorship forms. You can read more on Facebook on the bussheltermk page and the Willen Sleepout page on Virgin Money Giving is available for making donations.

Rev Dr Paul Smith, Team Rector of Stantonbury and Willen parish LEP will be taking part himself in support of the MK Bus Shelter, both to help raise awareness, as well as to offer some financial support. He says,

“I would like to invite you to sponsor me. Any amount, however small, will be welcome. It is very easy, as you can go online and pledge your chosen amount. Just go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PaulSmith385.”

If you could download the Willen Church sleepout poster and display it in your church too, that would be really appreciated!

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The Church of England has launched its national campaign for Christmas 2018. It uses the hashtag #FollowTheStar and there is a range of material available for churches to use, including books, apps and images.

“For many of us, Christmas brings up so many emotions, memories and expectations. We have one nativity story, but it can seem like we all have very different Christmases.
“For you it might be a time of joy and togetherness. Or perhaps it’s all about planning and to-do lists. Many others can find it a sad and lonely time – nagged by the feeling that your Christmas is not like those ‘perfect’ ones we see in the media.
“But just like the unexpected assortment of people who were invited to meet the baby Jesus, #FollowTheStardoesn’t ask you to be perfect. It says: come just as you are to take the life-changing Christmas journey.”

Archbishops Justin Welby & John Sentamu

For more resources, see the Church of England web site. They can be used with or without the CofE branding – at the request of MK and Cumbria!


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Advertising Strategy

Milton Keynes Deanery has been an active partner in Christian advertising in Milton Keynes. We have worked with Church.Ads and helped build a network of churches and partners in our city. We have been commended for the number of churches involved, the amount of money raised, and the impact we have had on non-church people.

This reached a peak with the production of professional quality radio adverts in 2017 – recorded in London with the support of a national funding charity.

Our strategy is changing for two big reasons: firstly, the investment in digital communications by the Church of England at national level is resulting in the decline of the ecumenical approach pursued by Church.Ads; secondly, Deanery Synod voted not to prioritise our radio work for the next few years in favour of other projects…

Our Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee (DMPC) discussed advertising strategies in September. They decided that advertising is best done at local level – although some churches may need support with this. They also felt that cross-city messaging is still worth doing, but may need further thought. They will come back to this at future meetings.

This means that we will not be leading an inter-church advertising campaign this year, but will be encouraging churches to think locally and use helpful resources like #FollowtheStar.

We think this reflects national and cultural shifts, and we hope churches will take advantage of the opportunities they have to reach out.

I hope to run a training session in November.

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Where’s Jesus: Christmas Campaign Report

We put together a campaign based on the theme, “Where’s Jesus?” This was intended to focus on the idea that Jesus can be found in unlikely places, and amongst marginalised people. There was also a tongue-in-cheek link to “Where’s Walley” which we wanted to play with using social media.

A grant of £2,000 from the Jerusalem Trust helped pay for the production of three thirty second radio adverts. This figure includes £1,228.75 for Jungle Studios, who did an amazing job. We also spent money on vocal talent.

There were three adverts. Each one focussed on a different character: a mum who struggles to pay the bills, a refugee and someone who doesn’t have much faith. Each one was humorous, but also attempted to make a serious point about God’s commitment to all people.

We raised and spent £2,572.81 on air-time with Heart MK – reaching an estimated 150,000 people. Our research into previous listener response, and our good relationship with the station, meant we were able to maximise our impact around peak times.

Unfortunately, the station didn’t like the refugee ad because they though it was “too preachy”, but the other two were played. We also ran a web site and a social media campaign with pictures of “Jesus” taken around the city. We paid for Facebook ads to boost this, and this reached over 4,000 people (clicks by 512). With more preparation, we think this aspect of our campaign would be even more successful if we did something similar next year…

The radio adverts were also used by churches in the Newbury area who paid for around £2,000 worth of air-time with Heart FM, a small local station in Aylesbury, and by Radio Shetland, who were willing to use all three adverts.

We have not had time to review the campaign properly yet, but the group feels that a second campaign in 2018 with a similar focus would help build impact. The adverts will also be available for use through Church Ads.

We would like to thank Jerusalem Trust for their grant, which made it possible to produce high-quality audio. We would also like to thank the staff of Jungle Studios, who went way beyond the call of duty to make the adverts work so well. None of this would have been possible, however, without the volunteers who gave time, and the churches who gave so generously.

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We’re Nearly There – But Not Quite!

For the past few years we’ve run a big radio advertising campaign based around the theme “Christmas Starts with Christ”. You’re probably already aware that this year we’ve made three new radio ads of our own linked to this, focussing on the theme of ‘Where’s Jesus?’, because we want to remind people that Jesus was born so God could be with us. The message of the Gospel is for everyone – particularly those who normally feel left out, or left behind – the poor, the marginalised; rough sleepers; the refugees. I hope you’ve managed to hear the ads live on Heart FM (it’s so exciting to hear ones we’ve written and recorded ourselves!), but if not, you can find them on our new website: WheresJesus.uk.

Although 82 services in both Milton Keynes and Newport Pagnell Deaneries have already been listed, not every parish or church has joined in the campaign. It’s not too late – and it’s free! If you’re not sure how to go about it, please email me (admin@mkdeanery.org) and I’ll do my best to help. The site usually gets thousands of hits (especially now the radio ads are repeated more frequently the closer we get to Christmas), so it’s well worth the effort!

We’re nearly there with the funding for this campaign too, so thank you to everyone who has contributed so far. Every single pound has been put to good use, and we appreciate every gift, because the more you put in, the more we can do! We’re not quite there, but are confident that God will provide. The Jerusalem Trust made a very generous grant of £2,000, but this can only be used for the cost of producing the adverts themselves – now and in future years – not air time or other costs. This is where we are:-

(If you would like to download the graph, it can be found in the documents under the Information tab.) If haven’t yet got round to contributing and think you could help us reach our target, now’s the time to do so! Payments need to go to “Milton Keynes Mission Partnership”, CAF Bank Ltd, Sort Code 40-52-40, A/C No. 00030666.

As well as the radio advertising and listing church services on Wheresjesus.uk, we’ve been busy with a visual campaign to make the concept of Jesus being amongst us more real, and get across the message that he’s here in Milton Keynes too! Every day we’ll be posting a different photo on our Facebook site, so please help us to broadcast more widely by copying these to your family and friends.

Finally, and most important of all, please remember to pray – that the Good News will be heard in our homes, streets and churches this year, and that lives will be changed because people discover that Jesus is there for them – not forgetting to give thanks to our wonderful God for his amazing love and provision!

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Where’s Jesus?

Many people today feel left out, or left behind: the gap between rich and poor is widening as austerity bites; refugees and immigrants feel unwelcome; old and young alike feel marginalised; our society is divided, unfair and stacked in favour of the ‘haves’ against the ‘have-nots’…

In a time like this it’s more important than ever to remember that Jesus came for all – particularly for those who think they’re unworthy to receive him. This is why our Christmas campaign will focus on the theme “Where’s Jesus?” There will be a lot more on this soon, but we wanted to give you a heads up…

Visit: Where’s Jesus? website: wheresjesus.uk

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Easter Advertising

The group looking at advertising has decided not to run a city-wide advertising campaign for Easter 2017. They will focus their attention on Christmas, and will be starting work on this soon after Easter.

Our advertising campaigns have previously included commercial radio and Facebook.  We have been investigating a serious advert in the local paper.  This year we produced three radio adverts that were used elsewhere in the country as part of the national “Christmas Starts with Christ” campaign.

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